Winter months are associated with flu, sore throats, and nasal congestion. You can get cold symptoms at any time of the year if your immune system is weak. You may wonder, “Should yoga still be practiced when I’m sick?” Can I go to Yoga when I’m sick?
Although we can’t speak for doctors, I have heard from some yoga teachers who suggest you continue your practice even if you are sick. However, your “practice,” as they call it, should be different than when your body is feeling well. Asana is healing to the body. Meditation and some Purification and Cleaning Practices are also beneficial.
It’s best to practice Yoga only if you are healthy to avoid infecting other yogis. You can practice at home instead. It is essential to do this if you’re coughing or sneezing. Rest instead of practicing asana if you are feeling sick. When sick, you should pay attention to your body’s needs. Sometimes the best thing to do is Rest.
Slow, gentle movements aid recovery. Try a gentle class or a restorative practice if you’re feeling energetic. When practicing at home, you should focus on the following poses: child’s pose; shoulder stand; downward facing dog; bridge pose, and seated spinal turns. Finish your practice with a long corpse pose. Blocks, blankets, and pillows can be used to support these poses so that you can maintain them with minimum effort. If your nasal passages have opened up, try practicing alternate nasal pranayama for several minutes. These breathing exercises and yoga poses can help to stimulate lymph fluid and oxygenate your body. They also open up internal organs and improve blood circulation.
When your body is fighting off an illness, you should relax. If you are sick, a sweaty, hot class could dehydrate your body, worsening things. You can heat your body at home if you want to cleanse it. You can choose less intense options such as hot broths, ginger, teas, and medicinal foods.
Yoga is not just Asanas
Getting sick could be the perfect time to practice other limbs in Yoga, which we often overlook. The limb niyama, which comes before the asana limb, is divided into five sections and can be practiced even when sick. Purification can be achieved by bathing, eating nutritious food, and using neti pots to clean nasal passages. Consider meditating upon the concept of satoshi to help you accept modifying your asanas. Or, choose a twenty-minute Shavasana as part of your physical practice. The final niyama is ishvara pranidhana or devotion. It refers to surrendering our limited sense of self to higher intelligence. Being sick can serve as a reminder that we are human. It can be a gift when we look at it that way.
Take advantage of the “Western” and “Eastern” traditions
It’s tempting to consider “Eastern medicine” as holistic and natural while judging “Western medicine” as modern and conventional. And to believe one over the other. I am a yoga instructor who encourages students and their loved ones to think about holistic approaches to health care, but I also recognize that we sometimes need to consult a doctor. While remaining open to modern medicine, be pragmatic in your approach to wellness. Incorporate the benefits from meditation and Yoga, Ayurveda, and other “holistic practices.” These two approaches are not mutually exclusive. Partnerships are growing between Eastern and Western practitioners. Holistic health practices are now used in hospitals and clinical settings. While you can practice restorative Yoga at home and use foods as medicine, you should also consider taking ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or decongestants to help control a temperature or to ease breathing problems during a cold. Openness to all healing methods can help bridge the Eastern and Western divides, allowing wellness to flourish.
When you feel under the weather and want to practice Yoga, do so with compassion and kindness for your body. Just as you wouldn’t perform a pose if it felt uncomfortable or unsafe to your body, if it didn’t feel right, don’t; you can always count on your mat to be there the next day.
What do you think about practicing Yoga while sick? Please share your experiences with how Yoga helped you recover after a cold.